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The Magpie

Sunday, January 21st, 2018   |   271 comments

Secrets And The City: Townsville Becomes Mushroomville , Fed On Bullshit And Kept In The Dark.

That old joke used to be funny, but not anymore. The mayor have been forced by civil activism to admit she had lied about the circumstances surrounding the funding of the Adani airstrip.

There is a raft of issues that Mayor Mullet and Council CEO Adele The Impaler Young refuse to share with the electorate. This is clearly for fear that their self-serving ideas betray political motivation only, and prompt more questions about honest governance than provide answers. Here’s a sample platter.

Now The Mad Katter wants to upset the Mayor Mullet’s tea-party. The Member For Kennedy, who has a loud voice on the national stage, joins the throng seeking an end to the Adani airstrip secrecy. His call has come when national media has started to take an interest in why the mayor has been openly lying about the issue, prompted by the bulldog like attentions of civic activist Phil Batty, who just won ‘t let go.

The Ipswich Council, up to its ears in corruption, has just disbanded the council’s development corporation, a vehicle that appeared to aid and abet the corruption in that city, but Townsville is about to create its own Development Corporation. But don’t concern yourself with the details, you won’t be told … this week’s meeting on the subject will be BEHIND CLOSED DOORS.

In other matters, The Magpie points you to the unreported sides of the Townsville Golf Club saga over sewage and water … and learns a couple of hitherto unknown facts.

Also, The Magpie is often accused of hosting a very negative blog, so this week, he puts forth some ideas the idlers at TEL could be looking at.

But first ….

So with Australia Day again upon us, and a rapacious media trying to whip more general apathy about the date on which it is celebrated. Even many an indigenous spokesperson thinks it is a non-starter as any sort of issue. But trust a politician to seize the opportunity to make a chucklehead of himself … take a gander at this goose …

Nigel Scullion

Nigel Scullion

…that’s Nigel Scullion Minister for Indigenous Affairs, a very shouty little man most ill-suited to his position. On ABC radio this morning, he made the astounding statement that no one in the indigenous community is talking at all about changing the date of Australia Day. Needless to say, this came as a surprise, not least of all to the interviewer, who works for an organization that seems to be able to get a dozen or more aboriginal naysayers to suddenly materialize at the flick of a video camera on-button.

On the other side of the coin is Dicky di Natale, the Green’s waffler-in-chief, who is pushing for a date change so that aborigines can have the date as their own ‘Sulk and Simmer Day’, a sort of bookend day to ‘Sorry Day’ on May 26. But Bentley doesn’t seem to think Dicky is getting the message across to newer generations of Aussies.

Oz Day

‘Keyboard Warriors’ Take To The Title

Funny how insults can sometimes suddenly turn into badges of honour – WW1 gave us the ‘Old Contemptibles’ (Emperor Wilhelm ll’s slur on the British Expeditionary Force) WW2 threw up the venerable Rats of Tobruk , and ‘the deplorables’ recently rebounded against Hillary Clinton. So it is with the current Battle for Townsville and Jenny Hill’s arrogant dismissal of those opposing her Adani airstrip venture as ‘keyboard warriors’.

Silly girl, Mullet.

Screen shot 2018-01-20 at 11.31.13 PM

It is now the proud soubriquet of folks like Phil Batty, who has brought your chicanery to national attention and to the CCC and the Ombudsman, petitioner Peter Newey and scores of informed commenters on this blog (The ‘Pie prefers to think of himself as a keyboard komedian).

They say nothing succeeds like persistence, so it is Phillip Batty’s terrier-like attention that Mayor Mullet and her legal lapdogs must find most galling. Courtesy of Mr Batty, the disgraceful self-censorship of the Bulletin was by-passed when this incisive and damning report appeared on WIN News.

That Win News story on Facebook has had 21,000 views and 874 shares. And 99.99% of the comments are positively against the airport and council. Guess they were all keyboard warriors, too.

Things have really started to go pear shaped for mayor Mullet – soon afterwards, the Guardian weighed in

Screen shot 2018-01-20 at 11.36.58 PM

… then this (which is NOT a government publication, just one that tracks governmental matters) …

Screen shot 2018-01-20 at 11.40.08 PM

… and, even in the Bulletin,  this.

Screen shot 2018-01-20 at 11.43.38 PM

So, with a little more resonance in the immediate area, Bob Katter has squeaked into the fray … his party represents a chunk of Townsville ratepayers and associated business interests. He echoes calls for all the dealings out on the table.

Jenny Hill

It has all forced our mayor to admit to lying about the ownership, operation and manner of ‘gifting’ a shonky Indian billionaire up to $18.5million of ratepayers funds for an airstrip at a mine that may never happen. And has highlighted … as if we didn’t already have proof enough … of her secretive, self-interested methods of riding rough shod over the real interests and wishes of her mandate.

Jenny Hill and her inept legal toe-suckers have been forced to admit that they will not only NOT OWN OR OPERATE the Adani airport they have co-funded with the Rockhampton council, but we will also be paying rent throughout its life time. She’s a business genius!!!

As previously reported here, Mr. Batty sooled the CCC on to the issue, who then duck-shoved it off to the Department of Infrastructure to check on possible corruption in the procurement process. It was this move that forced the mayor to admit to het lying … in so many words, of course, its inescapable but a direct apology will never be on this twister’s agenda.

The Ombudsman has also been apprised of the situation.

But as for the Department of Infrastructure, they have to be mindful of premier Alphabet … and the fact that she and mayor Mullet are close personal friends and long-standing Labor allies.

 The Political Art Of Kabuki – Queensland Style

So expect a set piece of bureaucratic kabuki theatre, the Japanese art form that follows unyielding rules involving highly stylized song, mime and dance, exhaustively rehearsed.

Kabuki 2

The Magpie will bet that Mayor Mullet’s dishonesty with the electorate will not be considered (since no complaint was directly made about such behaviour) and will be found to as pure as the driven snow regarding procedural matters, despite her public lying. But the Ombudsman is far more independent, and we will have to depend on whether that office is willing to ask probing relevant questions that the Department of Infrastructure will dodge as not being their remit.

That could be the bad news … here’s the worse news …this secret and probably corrupt governance of Townsville has every appearance of snowballing.

More Secret Stuff – Secret For No Valid Reason

Mayor Mullet and Adele The Impaler have set the standard for this new ‘secret women’s business’ when they refused to release the KPMG report which apparently (according to her alone) reckons the Adani mine would inject $90million ANNUALLY into the Townsville economy for … wait for it … the 30 years life span of the mine!!! Economists making such definitive long range forecasts are as rare as rocking horse shit – they just don’t do it – but we can’t dispute their projections – because they are somehow deemed ‘commercial in confidence’.

The rorting never ends, this can only be an utter lie aimed at avoiding independent examination  of a report on which one of the shonkiest local government decisions ever was made. This from the Globalnegotiator site: Commercial in confidence. A classification that identifies information that, if disclosed, may result in damage to a party’s commercial interests, intellectual property or trade secrets.

So KPMG knows trade secrets and intellectual property 30 years in advance?

Get off the table, Mabel, the money’s for the beer.

Dangerous Developments

But hey, it worked once, why not again? So this week, The ‘Pie is told there is a council meeting to discuss the council creating its own Development Corporation. (read ‘discuss’ as: the councillor pets to be lectured by the mayoral owner.)

AND GUESS WHAT? That meeting is going to be held in secret, behind closed doors, no public, no press. Why? What justification can there be for keeping these deliberations from the public? Commercial in confidence simply cannot apply, and no deals or third parties could surely be discussed at this stage. Or could they … like free land in exchange for a share in a blue-sky battery factory?

This will be discussed just at a time when the corruption-riddled Ipswich Council finally ditched its development Corporation, which was widely believed to have offered opportunities for corruption. Jenny Hill, a great admirer of disgraced former mayor Paul Pisasale, apparently got this idea from a visit to to ipswich.)

This all has a long way to run yet, and the best line of the week goes to reader Achilles, who wrote in: ‘I always thought a spinning jenny was for cotton, seems to work well with a yarn, too.’

Water Hazard

Seems the politics of envy is alive and well in Walker Street. The Townsville Golf Club has been copping a one-sided caning over problems with its on-site sewage treatment plant. There can be little doubt that well known that hooning Mayor Mullet is behind a long running campaign (it started during the last elections two years ago) painting a‘ picture of rich, unscrupulous  people behaving badly at the golf club. This is of course nonsense (it’s a damn sight dearer to race hoon cars, Jenny), and the club has chosen to air some overlooked facts in posts to this blog in the form of comments.

Townsville Golf Club aerial

TGC before the development

Both sides of the argument are represented in lengthy but interesting exchanges. The entire exchange is way too long to reprint here in full but you can find it well down in comment on last week’s blog. The Magpie sees this as a good example of how issues are ignored, glossed over, or twisted by both the Bulletin and the council (mainly by the sin of omission), thus the re-run here, which unfortunately  remains quite lengthy.. However if this is not an issue of interest to you, just skip to the next headline.

This is a summary, edited for brevity in parts. It kicked off with this accusation.

Wry Whiskey 

January 18, 2018 at 8:13 am  (Edit)

The odious (or should that be odorous?) saga of the TGC and it sewage treatment plant was a comedy until the recent tragedyThe club allowed this very old STP to fall into disrepair despite having the funds in the last 3 years to replace it, the developer has refused to prioritise its refurbishment until land sales are completed (the new clubhouse and STP are the last items on their list – presumably if there’s any money left over for the club), the Dept of Environment took 9 months to investigate persistent odour complaints before issuing Orders, the Council washed its hands of the entire affair despite being the sole provider of “the goods”. The community can only hope WHSQ does its job properly. Failing that, a class action against these actors would seem to

Reply

  • Golf club truth

 

January 18, 2018 at 10:42 am  (Edit)

Statements made here about the old treatment plant at the golf club are completely off the mark.

Firstly the property development and the redevelopment of the golf club are completely separate. The golf redevelopment is being run by the club. The property development is under the control of a completely seperate organisation.and has no responsibility for the treatment plant. The sale of land from the property development is providing funds for the golf course rebuild.

The recent history of the club must be taken into account. Despite the mayor describing the club as a millionaire golf club at the last local government election the reality is over the last decade the club has been on the brink of extinction with crippling debts.

Green on Hole 18 with Club House in the background

To save one of the oldest clubs in Australia and an asset to this city the club was forced to embark on the current project to provide funds to keep the club afloat. The onsite sewage treatment plant is a major liability to the club. Aside from the operation and maintenance costs there is also a licence fee of fifty thousand dollars a year just operate the plant.

The club went to the council four years ago with options to secure the long term water supply for the new course. The volume of waste treated through this plant is saving the council two hundred thousand dollars per year in treatment costs for waste not going through to their treatment plant so the council certainly has skin in the game. Both Rowes Bay and the Willows Golf Clubs receive treated effluent free of charge from the council while the Townsville Club is bearing a huge cost burden to treat on site.

To suggest the club has just let the existing plant go to ruin without taking action to secure a long term water supply with the council is just utter nonsense. The club is currently seeking to have treated effluent from the Cleveland Bay treatment plant returned to the course to remove the need to build another treatment plant. That returned effluent could also be used for other public facilities in the area such as the Murray Sporting Complex.

The development project as a whole will inject 130 million dollars into the Townsville economy over the life of the project. The accident involving the club’s head green keeper is a concern for all. Jason is a valued employee and friend of the members and we are all concerned for him and look forward to a speedy recovery and his return to the club.

In the meantime the council despite suggesting otherwise has a very real responsibility in this matter and must speed up the process of providing a sensible reuse of waste water from their Cleveland Bay plant that would otherwise be flushed out to sea. If the council can provide recycled water for the football stadium they can do so for the Townsville Golf Club.

Wry Whiskey 

January 18, 2018 at 5:34 pm  (Edit)

The refurbishment (of the STP) is undeniably hampered by 1) the land developer putting the clubhouse and STP redevelopment last and 2) the club not prioritising it ahead of new greens. Regardless, the club has been sitting on the significant proceeds of land sales for years. Fiddling while Rome burns. Get on with a real solution which is safe and effective for all concerned.

Reply

  • Golf club truth

January 18, 2018 at 10:08 pm  (Edit)

Let me try to explain this for you one more time. The land development is a separate operation to the golf course redevelopment. The developers of the housing estate have no say in the roll out of the new club house or any other part of the golf course rebuild. The club has made in very clear they cannot afford to build a new STP despite your ill informed claims that the club is sitting on millions of dollars. The budget for the finished product leave very little cash left over. Whatever is left will be needed to help the clubs long term financial sustainability.

The land that has been set aside for the housing development made it necessary to rebuild a number of holes on new alignments to accommodate the land parcels for each stage of the development. The rebuilding of these holes had to happen now or the club would have folded.

I’m not sure what is driving your desire to attack the club. Clearly you are completely ignorant of the need to stage this project around the roll out of the housing development. Land that once had golf holes is now streets and houses. No new holes and the club folds. Is that what you want to see happen?

Fortunately you’re not running this operation. Your attitude to the project and your desire to attack the club tells us more about you than those people working very hard to save a very important asset for this city. All that while investing 130 million dollars into our struggling economy.

This city desperately needs people with a positive attitude not whingers who want us to under achieve so they can feel good about themselves,

Just to clear a common misconception following the misleading stories in the Townsville Bulletin two years ago during the council elections. The club is not and has not for the last 30 plus years used anything other than treated effluent from the on course treatment plant to water the course. That story was run for political purposes and remains untrue. The existing plant is now well past it’s use by date and an affordable water solution must be found.

We live in the dry tropics and yes we do have a water crisis. The club has no desire to use reticulated town water. Given the city’s dire problems with water we simply must use recycled water from the Cleveland Bay treatment plant to reduce our reliance on our normal water supply. We as a city already spend millions of dollars treating this water to simply dump it in the ocean because we live next to the Great Barrier Reef. As of last week we have been told we will need to treat recycled water to irrigate the new football stadium so the council is now going to have to treat water to a higher degree to water grass on which to play Rugby League.

Therefore suitable water to use at the golf club, the Murray Complex, the turf club and even the road verges entering the city will be available. We must go down this path. It is time to stop looking in the rear view mirror and starting looking to a water wise future.

For the golf club the only asset they had to secure their future was land they could sell. This is a once and once only opportunity to secure the clubs future.. The Cleveland Bay plant will always be there. If it’s good enough for the football stadium it good enough for all.

Let’s not forget the club has saved the TCC based on their estimation in today’s dollars seven million dollars treating effluent the council would have otherwise had to treat. Let’s not forget the increased rate base coming from the new subdivision providing new revenue for the council.

The club will continue to work with the council for a future building outcome.

Pie I know my comments on this matter have been long but there has been a great deal of misinformation on this matter. Some of it deliberate. It is important to share balance and facts.!

That last line is why The Magpie blog exists.

Let’s End On A Positive Note

magpie peering copy

The Magpie has copped occasional flak from the ill-informed or mischievous for being ‘so negative’ … well, it’s hard to be much else dealing the general dishonesty prevalent in this city. And The ‘Pie has made several suggestions of a positive nature (all ignored) over the years, including a script for a tourism commercial that professional peers in Sydney and Melbourne deemed worthy of production (nothing happened).

But since the Bulletin has invited the world and his wife to send in their ideas to give the Dudley Do Nothings at Wishing Well House a few sorely needed ideas, The Magpie has decided to stick in his beak, too.

And what we’re talking about here are projects that should be quietly and professionally pursued but not trumpeted as ‘done deals’ as is so often the case from mayor Mullet via the Daily astonisher. Sure there will immediately be plenty of naysayers, who say these things can’t be done, for one reason or another, but the following short list is written with the George Bernard Shaw words – more famously later paraphrased by Senator Robert Kennedy –  ‘men see the world as it is, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?’

The following are mainly about attracting tourists, but that is not to ignore the single most important issue – the almost automatic expansion of the city’s industrial base when it has access to adequate affordable power.  But that aside, here are some thoughts on attracting tourism investment.

radical bay

  1. An approach to whomsoever has the lease on Radical Bay to consider the establishment of a high class ‘glamping site’ there. Serviced by paths running down the sides of the valley to the beach, lines of glamping structures would be a world class site, each provided with its own small vehicle to allow all of the island to share in the largesse of the attraction. The council and the state Parks and Wildlife people should be persuaded to repair the road, since it would also service adjacent, uninhabited bays, and make wildlife tours more accessible and profitable.  glamping-new-5-636447010242370215_460_259A small utilities and services building with bar, restaurant, water rentals office etc would be feasible, since there was one there for years anyway and did not harm, and Sea Goddess were going to build a flogging great hotel there. The now often grubby beach would be regularly tended and the bay is ideal for water sports and snorkelling. The big problem of a water supply could be overcome with the operator funding a suitable storage tank near the entrance above the site. Scores of jobs.

Wave Park

  1. A wave surf facility – the one pictured above is planned for Perth – such as the one Les Walker talks about, (an idea he picked up from The Magpie some years ago, after I had discussed it with Clr David Crisafulli as an option for the ‘duck pond’ in front of the casino. Crisafulli thought the idea a great one, but he got tied up in other things before anything was moved ahead. No need to go into the detail, but if Chris Morris could be persuaded to look at the project in front of his hotel/casino, there would be some big pluses in there for him – and what a wonderful entrance message to cruise liners and yachtsmen! Such a facility has a built-in local clientele in the permanent rotation of young athletic defence personnel, the thousands of southern surf-savvy public servants and uni students, and a magnet for the whole adjacent region. Tourism attracted by it, particularly from Asia, would also give a massive lift to the town, in jobs and confidence. Another element that could be incorporated: a Pier running out from the left hand side, with trawlers permanently moored there, some older permanently pensioned off operating as restaurants, other selling produce direct off the boats (a long standing and highly successful idea in Port Macquarie), tourist tour boats for a spin around Maggy or up to Palm, and the seaplane for joy rides. A line of elegant palms could be planted along a widened right hand side breakwater … it would be magic for incoming visitors. A simulation fly-over would be a great sales tool and would not cost the earth – certainly a fraction of $18.5million.

castle Hill

  1. That site on Castle Hill where Panorama House used to be, and the parking area across the road should be offered to a group affiliated with JCU or another university (or all of them for that matter) to create a northern Australia planetarium-type attraction, with a unique feature of a tall elegant four walled structure towering up the side of the hill to whatever height necessary (40, 60, 100 metres whatever) so people could view stars day and night, as well as associated displays – this is based on the well (no pun) known fact that if you go down a well that is deep enough during the day, when you look up, all ambient light is cut out and the stars and milky way can be clearly seen. The strikingly-designed structure (called perhaps Stargate Townsville and could be the subject of an international design competition) could become a well know landmark identifiable with Townsville. It is not silly to suggest people like Richard Branson or even Bill gates could be quietly approached, its a fit with parts of their empires.

And to those tiresome tediums who suggest it would be inappropriate on such a heritage landmark as Castle Hill,  I will go along with that argument only when they also demand the removal of the obscene, irrelevant  vandalistic graffiti of that Saint figure … without exception, every visitor I have spoken to or hosted over 25 years has been appalled by its sanctioned and continued existence. It belittles and besmirches the reputation of the city to an extent that is willfully not acknowledged. The standard answer is ‘mind your own f…king business, this is our town. If you don’t like, piss have.’ Well done, folks, many potential repeat visitors have done that just that. And told others.

a-cable-car-going-up-powell-street-in-downtown-san-francisco-usa-EW6N86

  1. Ancillary to Stargate Townsville, I suggest that a San Francisco style tram facility be created to inter alia service the planetarium and take folks to the exising hilltop area, running across the front base of Castle Hill then curling around and up the back of the hill as it climbs to the top, affording that brilliant vista of the city stretching out to the Pinnacles. Again a defining POD … point of difference for Townsville.
  1. And if we are in visionary mode, we need to set the timelines a little longer from right now, and seriously look at the considerable upsides to a commuter rail service for the northern beaches – at least to Rolling Stone – maybe later to Ingham. Modern rail motors, sleeker versions of the wonderful old ones stupidly scrapped 20 or more years ago, could service various economical ‘siding stations’ which if the demand is there could include secure car parks. This would relieve the ever-increasing congestion, pollution and danger of the roads feeding the area – part of which is a busy national highway anyway –  would save residents money, would provide safe travel for school kids, and make the inevitable proliferation of dormitory suburbs more accessible, appealing and encourage strong property values. This template could be replicated into other areas as they became suitable candidates for such a service. The house and land prices being as they are, such a light rail service running through Giru to Brandon and down to Ayr would again become feasible, as it once was.  Taking this back-to-the -future scenario a step further, in perhaps 40 or 50 years, God and Donald Trump willing that our city is still here, a high speed rail link for city workers to Charters Towers – Ingham too – is not out of the question. But as airey fairy as that last bit may sound now, it’s called ‘vision’. I ask the scoffers to look back at Townsville 25 years ago and honestly say if they could have – in their wildest dreams –  envisaged the mini-metroplis of today taking over the cow paddocks and horse resting yards of that age.

One immediate step that could be taken, indeed should be loudly agitated for, is a convention entertainment centre, which was pushed away and back by vested interests with no real interest or vision for this city … a vision that sees no further than their own self-interests.

And all the above incorporates elements of what I have been consistently calling for … a total restructuring of Townsville Enterprise, run by a truly professional, experienced and above all accountable team with the talents to make the above reality. And leave the council to get on with the day to day running of the city, a ball that they have so badly dropped in the past three years.

Let’smust end by again quoting two memorable truisms of the visionary Robert Kennedy, who said ‘One fifth of the people are against everything all the time’, probably 50% in Townsville, but they should repudiated by his other clarion call ‘Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly’. 

 robertkennedy1-1

And that means not wasting millions of public money on a pointless billionaire’s airstrip.

…………………

A lengthy one this week, hope you found something in all that to interest you. Let’s have your thoughts on any matters of that tickle your fancy, comments run 24/7 throughout the week. And if you can offer the blog your tangible support, it will be greatly appreciated, the donate button is right below.

The Magpie's Nest is now more than five years old, and remains an independent alternative voice for Townsville. The weekly warble is a labour of love and takes a lot of time to put together. So if you like your weekly load of old cobblers, you can help keep it aloft with a donation, or even a regular voluntary subscription. Paypal is at the ready, it's as easy as ... well, easy as pie. Limited advertising space is also available.

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